Fire chief: Remove 'lewd and horrible' posts about firefighter
Fairfax Underground curator Carey Weidemann said he thought Chief Bowers' statements were a "deflection of blame"
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers said a website should shut down after firefighter-paramedic Nicole Mittendorff died by suicide following cyber-bullying.
NY Daily News reported that Chief Bowers said the website, Fairfax Underground, should remove the "lewd and horrible" remarks made about Mittendorff. Mittendorff was found dead in Shenandoah National Park. Police found a suicide note in her car.
News later surfaced about multiple anonymous posters who made derogatory remarks about the 31-year-old before her death. Even after her body was found, users continued to demean her on the site.
Virginia State Police said they don't believe the comments led directly to her death, according to the report. However, Chief Bowers announced his team was investigating the statements during a press conference on Friday. He said the department did not know about the harassment and that he's looking into the hateful remarks, some of which appeared to come from colleagues.
This blog and social media are out of control, Chief Bowers said. People have no common sense and no sense of responsibility; when you have anonymous posts, people can say anything. "It's just wrong; it's terrible."
Fairfax Underground curator Carey Weidemann called Chief Bowers' statements a "deflection of blame." Weidemann said he previously removed comments due to complaints. He also received a court order last year to take down remarks about a different female firefighter.
Chief Bowers said the department is starting a suicide education and prevention program and creating a task force to address harassment and discrimination.